A note: don’t do this.
The “this” in question? Approaching strangers in a bar to buy blow. Maybe we didn’t have to lecture you on that particular point, but then again, maybe you’re a rather brash young state legislator from Indiana and you were planning on going out tonight. Of course, if that was the case, you probably already know about what happened to Rep. Dan Forestal of Indianapolis a few weekends ago.
On an August Saturday, Marion County Sheriff’s Office received 911 reports that a man was pretending to be a police officer. More precisely, this man was visibly drunk at a bar, brandishing a badge on a silver chain, and interrogating innocent bargoers about the location of the “people selling drugs,” ostensibly so he could go bust them. He had previously made a round inquiring after “party favors.” Neither tactic worked for him.
Little did the cops know they were dealing with an elected state official. In an announcement last Thursday, they said that they found out as soon as they could get Forestal out of his car where he had holed up, apparently to clutch the steering wheel and try to avoid arrest for a brief period of time. Once he exited the vehicle, the 36-year-old correctly identified himself to the police officers as “a firefighter, a state representative, and the nephew of the Marion County Sheriff,” according to The Hill. Forestal has been an active firefighter with the Indianapolis Fire Department for 12 years.
Forestal was eventually charged with impersonating a public servant, resisting law enforcement, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated—a low-level felony and two misdemeanors. The Fire Department says he’s been suspended without pay for 240 working hours, after which a decision will be made about his employment and responsibilities going forward.
The Assistant Democratic Caucus Chair’s court hearing has been scheduled for August 27, and will be attended to by a special prosecutor, as the county’s full-time prosecutor Terry Curry has made campaign donations to Forestal in the past, and has even volunteered for the guy.
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time Forestal has been charged with drunk driving. In 2007, he told his bosses at the fire department that he had reached a plea deal in a matter of a DUI. “I apologize for putting myself and the Fire Department in this situation,” he wrote in an email. “Nothing like this will ever happen again.”
Though Forestal’s supporters may have been surprised to hear that he was caught soliciting blow from fellow bar patrons, he is by no means the only politician to be associated with the drug this summer. In England, then-candidate for leader of the Tory Party Michael Gove admitted to the press that he had done cocaine on several occasions as a young journalist. “It was a mistake,” he told the press. “I look back and I think, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
Of course, past cocaine usage is hardly a disqualifier for a political career. Just ask Barack Obama, who copped to using the drug multiple times in his memoir Dreams From My Father. “It was reflective of the struggles and confusion of a teenage boy,” he later said. “Teenage boys are frequently confused.”